In a discussion started by Camilla Keen on LinkedIn, she asks, “In order to find out and evaluate if a company has an effective learning culture, what would be your top ten questions?” I commented:
- Are leaders communicating the importance of learning (acquiring new knowledge, skills, and capabilities) and holding managers accountable for learning and applying that learning to making a difference for the organization?
- Are managers helping their direct reports create an individualized learning plan linked to strategic goals of organization?
- Are managers monitoring learning progress and providing feedback; are they structuring opportunities to apply learning on the job; and holding direct reports accountable for results?
- Are managers coaching; are they partnering with direct reports to develop their capacity to achieve organizational goals?
- Are leaders mentoring; are they using their experience to advise new and less experienced employees on how to fulfill the functions of their jobs?
- In recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of new employees, is learning part of the conversation; is learning conveyed as a value of the organization; are expectations for employee learning and development discussed during recruitment phase?
- Can employees see how their learning is aligned with the strategic goals of the organization; do they understand how acquiring certain knowledge and skills will help the organization be successful; is a direct link from learning to results made clear?
- Are a wide range of formal and informal, hi-tech and hi-touch methods being used to facilitate learning; are the methods used determined by the intended outcomes for the organization?
- Are expectations for employee learning discussed with employees; do employees know what they need to learn and why they need to learn it and what criteria will be used to monitor progress and assess results; are high expectations communicated?
- Is learning applied throughout the organization to continuously improve performance and achieve strategic goals?
These are my top ten but not my only questions for a company that wants to evaluate its learning culture. What’s important here is to realize that questions like these are a tool for learning, not blame. I want to help leaders reflect on the culture of their organizations and how well that culture supports learning so that they can make changes that help individuals, teams, and the whole organization be successful.